My doctor detected a heart murmur (leaky heart valve, hole in my heart) yesterday. I have an echocardiogram on tuesday to figure out exactly how big the gap is. I’ve learned that I was probably born with the condition. I just wonder why it was never detected before. I’ve complained to my doctor about chest pains, fatigue, and shortness of breath for a couple of years, but I recently took a two week trip to the mountains. During this trip, I had an especially hard time breathing. I’ve learned that severe stress on the cardiovascular system can cause the hole to “grow”. Could this trip have been what caused the hole to become apparent? Since I’ve been back to my home at a much lower altitude, I’ve noticed my symptoms become more severe. I wake up about two nights a week feeling pain radiating from my chest and up into my back and shoulder, feeling as though my heart is going to come out of my chest. I have a hard time maintaining smooth speech on the phone and feel dizzy when standing up. My doctor has attributed these symptoms to “panic attacks” which I thought sounded reasonable because someone close to me was recently murdered and it seemed that panic attacks would become more intense after this trauma. I’m now thinking otherwise. Do I fit the description of someone with considerably intense heart valve dysfunction? (I have also gained a considerable amount of weight over the past couple of months). What I found out was – Heart murmurs are most often caused by defective heart valves. A stenotic (sten-OT’ik) heart valve has a smaller-than-normal opening and can’t open completely. A valve may also be unable to close completely. This leads to regurgitation, which is blood leaking backward through the valve when it should be closed. Murmurs also can be caused by conditions such as pregnancy, fever, thyrotoxicosis (thi”ro-toks”ih-KO’sis) (a diseased condition resulting from an overactive thyroid gland) or anemia. A diastolic (di”as-TOL’ik) murmur occurs when the heart muscle relaxes between beats. A systolic (sis-TOL’ik) murmur occurs when the heart muscle contracts. Systolic murmurs are graded by intensity (loudness) from one to six. A grade 1/6 is very faint, heard only with a special effort. A grade 6/6 is extremely loud. It’s heard with a stethoscope slightly removed from the chest.
Read story here: Louise Calhoun’s replacement mitral heart valve kept her from walking more than a few feet before needing to rest, UAB . . .